Deco Raleigh in downtown Raleigh. (Courtesy yellowDog)
If you’re visiting the Raleigh-Durham area or entertaining out-of-town guests, you might be looking for shops that sell Southern gifts to take home or to give away. Foods such as cheese straws, barbecue sauce or pecans are tasty mementos of a visit, but they’re also portable comfort food for Southerners who might be far from home.
Other handcrafted pieces—such as pottery and jewelry—draw on North Carolina’s heritage, making a unique statement. Here’s a look at places to find gifts made specifically in the Raleigh-Durham area, in addition to those made in the state.
Seagrove Pottery Gallery
Browse the Seagrove Pottery Gallery in Raleigh for a wide selection of pottery made in North Carolina, from the mountains to the coast. Most of the shop’s pottery comes from the Triangle area and from Seagrove, which has a tradition of kiln-fired pottery ever since seven families from England and Germany settled in the area in the late 18th century drawn to its clay.
These potters initially made vessels for their own use or for others, including Civil War soldiers who needed to carry drink or heat up their food, says Gene King, who owns the shop in Raleigh as well as the store’s original branch in Seagrove. Seagrove Pottery Gallery still sells “Civil War” cups, in addition to beautiful utilitarian pottery such as soup mugs, coffee cups and pie plates.
NOFO @ the Pig
Located in Raleigh’s historic Five Points Business District, NOFO @ the Pig is a café, food market and gift shop all in one, offering an eclectic variety of gifts made in North Carolina. You’ll find everything from trucker hats with emblems of oysters and pigs (both state exports) to jewelry and items made for babies and toddlers—all from North Carolina artisans.
Browse books by local authors or about the region. If you’re interested in taking home treats, select from North Carolina chocolates, cookies, cakes, pies, popcorn, nuts, jellies, jams, syrups and grits.
Deco Raleigh in the heart of downtown Raleigh prides itself on being both a place to buy local and a social gathering place for locals. The store features the work of 60 North Carolina artisans whose crafts range from barbecue sauces to pottery, prints, cards, jewelry, textiles, babywear and T-shirts. If you’re looking for things made in the Triangle, you’ll find many choices, especially in jewelry, says Deco Raleigh owner Pam Blondin.
North Carolina Museum of History
Check out the exhibits at the North Carolina Museum of History in downtown Raleigh and then stop at The Museum Shop on the ground floor to pick up handmade gifts that reflect the state’s heritage. The store carries North Carolina pottery, wooden wares, toys, soaps, lotions, jams, jellies, peanuts, toffee, books and jewelry.
It’s the only place you’ll find jewelry made from copper that was removed from the historic North Carolina State Capitol building’s dome. The Dogwood-themed earrings are beautiful reminders of the North Carolina state flower.
Locals know they can pick up fresh produce and plants at the State Farmers Market, but even some long-time residents haven’t discovered the Market Shoppes, which occupy a nearby building. These specialty shops feature many of the state’s products such as barbecue sauces, wines, cheeses and pies. You’ll also find the wares of local crafters and artisans, such as soaps and lotions there.
Opened in 1975, Southern Season in Chapel Hill is known among fans of Southern food as the place to find it all. The store’s “Southern Inspired Specialty Foods” are too numerous to list, but include North Carolina’s Num Num Mustard Style BBQ Sauce, Bull City Bar-B-Que Co. Poultry Rub and North Carolina roasted pecans. Ginny O’s cheese straws originated at the Oak View Estate in Raleigh, an antebellum farmstead.
Started 40 years ago, WomanCraft Gifts is a local, co-op of about 70 artisans—men and women—who sell what they create. All of the artists live in North Carolina, and most of them reside in Chapel Hill, Carrboro or Durham. The Carrboro store features handcrafted pottery, jewelry, textiles, glass, wood, woven baskets, paintings, photographs, mosaics, decorated gourds, greeting cards, skin care and food items. Co-op members staff the store and are ready to talk to visitors about their products.
Zola Craft Gallery
A short walk from Duke University’s East Campus, Zola Craft Gallery features an array of jewelry, pottery, garden art, cards, candles, market bags, tea towels, napkins and body products made in the state. Although the store’s street address is Ninth Street, its entrance is actually on Perry Street. It’s located above Bruegger’s Bagels.